Isaiah Chapter 7 / 2 Nephi 17

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The coming of Jesus in Isaiah chapter 7

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The prediction of the birth of Christ in this chapter has always baffled me. However, if you take a few minutes to understand the historical context, you will realize this prediction is a sign to King Ahaz to persuade him to trust in the Lord’s protection against his enemies.

Because so much is going on in this chapter, I’d like to use John Bytheway’s summary to explain all that is going on

“The kingdom of Syria and the kingdom of Israel (here referred to as Ephraim, the dominant tribe) threaten to war against the kingdom of Judah if she will not join their alliance against the Assyrians. Isaiah prophesies to the king of Judah (Ahaz) that the alliance will fail and offers to give Ahaz a sign. Ahaz refuses, but Isaiah gives the sign anyway, that a virgin will conceive and bring forth a son called Immanuel, but before the child reaches the age of accountability, the alliance of Syria and Israel will be broken (a dual prophecy of a later Immanuel). If Ahaz refuses to believe the Lord, Judah will be invaded by the Assyrians and the Egyptians, people will be captured and humiliated, leaving productive farmland to become pasture for hunting and grazing.1

Madsen and Hopkin, in their Opening Isaiah—a Harmony, stated that “Isaiah 7–8 tell the story of a war in which Syria joined Israel [the northern tribes] against Judah”. In about 734–32 BC, Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel fought against Ahaz, the king of Judah in hopes of installing their own puppet on the throne.  (See Map Isaiah below from their Harmony)2

The Harmony’s footnotes also offered this table that will help you understand who and where, as locations and people are listed in this chapter:

 THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET
ISAIAH

CHAPTER 7

Ephraim and Syria wage war against Judah—Christ will be born of a virgin—Compare 2 Nephi 17.

 King James Version

Book of Mormon
2 Nephi 17

Expanded Notes and Commentary

 Joseph Smith Translation (JST) corrections in the Book of Mormon are in RED; commentary and notes are GREEN 

aAnd it came to pass in the
days of Ahaz the son of
Jotham, the son of Uzziah,
king of Judah, that bRezin the 
cking of Syria, and dPekah the
son of Remaliah, king of Israel,
went up toward Jerusalem to
war against it, but could not
prevail against it.

x
x

x
x

aAnd it came to pass in the
days of bAhaz the son of cJotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah,
that dRezinking of Syria, and 
ePekah the son of Remaliah, king
of Israel, went up toward
Jerusalem to war against it, but
could not prevail against it.
x

x

x

x

x

About 734–32 BC the Assyrian empire was a superpower conquering their neighbors. Both Syria and Israel had become Assyrian “vassal states.” But they formed an “alliance in the hope of winning their independence. Pekah, king of Israel, and Rezin, king of Syria, invited Ahaz, king of Judah, to join with them, but Ahaz refused.”  In retaliation, they plotted an attack on Judah hoping to remove Ahaz to put their own puppet on the throne.2—Terry Ball and Nathan Winn, Making Sense of Isaiah, Deseret Book, p. 121

And it was told the house of
David, saying, Syria is
confederate with aEphraim.
And his heart was moved, and
the heart of his people, as the
trees of the wood are moved
with the wind.

x

x

And it was told the house of David, saying: Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

x

x

And it was told the house of David [Judah, Jerusalem], saying, Syria is confederate [joining forces] with Ephraim [Israel, the northern ten tribes]. And his [King Ahaz’s] heart was moved [shaken], and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind [they were “shaking in their boots”; scared]. Ridges, David J., The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3  Cedar Fort, Inc., Kindle Edition.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Then said the Lord unto
Isaiah, Go forth now to meet
Ahaz, thou, and aShearjashub
thy 
son, at the end of the 
bconduit of the upper pool3 cin
the 
highway of the fuller’s field4;

Then said the Lord unto
Isaiah: Go forth now to meet
Ahaz, thou and Shearjashub
thy son, at the end of the 
aconduit of the upper pool3 in
the 
highway of the fuller’s field4

aShearjashub was one of the sons of Isaiah who went with his father to visit King Ahaz. His name was a prophetic one that meant “the remnant shall return”Isa. 8:3, 18 (17–18).

Upper Pool3 and the Highway of the Fuller’s Field4

A fuller was one who cleaned, pressed, bleached and dyed cloth for a living. Since this work required a great deal of water, the “fuller’s field” or place of work was always near a pool or spring of water. The Spring of Gihon was a natural water source in the Kidron Valley. In early times, before Israelite occupation, the inhabitants of Jerusalem sent their women to the spring for water. Standing on an elevated platform, the women let their leather buckets down a forty-foot shaft, or conduit, that led to the spring below and hauled up their water. Some think this was the “conduit of the Upper Pool.” Located nearby was the “fuller’s field.” (See Miller and Miller, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Gihon.”) Remains of a large, man-made pool west of the city have been found, however, and some scholars think that may have been the location. OTSM

And say unto him, aTake heed,
and be quiet; fear not, neither
be fainthearted for the two tails
of these smoking firebrands3for
the fierce anger of Rezin with
Syria, and of the son of
Remaliah.x
x
x

And say unto him: Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

x
x

IE Don’t be alarmed by the attack; those two kings have little fire left.
The image is that of a torch that has burned out. The charred pieces of wood have no strength and carry no real threat (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:273).x

Because Syria, Ephraim, and
the son of Remaliah, have taken
evil counsel against thee, saying,

 

Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying:

In his Harmony, Parry translates the last part of this verse more clearly: … have plotted against you, saying:—Donald W. Parry, Harmonizing Isaiah, p 57

Let us go up against Judah,
and vex it, and let us amake a
breach therein for us, and set a
king in the midst of it, even the
son of Tabeal:

x

Let us go up against Judah and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, yea, the son of Tabeal.

x

The goal of the war was to place a puppet king, Tabeal, on Judah’s throne who would ally himself with Syria and Israel in their rebellion against Assyria.Madsen and Hopkin, Opening Isaiah—a Harmony, p. 26

Thus saith the Lord GodIt
shall not stand, neither shall
it come to pass.
x

Thus saith the Lord God: aIt
shall 
not stand, neither shall it
come to pass.
x

Here’s the Lord’s word through Isaiah, simply put: “It shall not stand neither shall it come to pass.”—Joseph Spencer, The Vision of All, p, 194

For the head of Syria is
aDamascusand the head of
Damascus is Rezin; and within
threescore and five years shall
bEphraim be broken, that it be
not people.x

x

For the head of Syria is
Damascus, and the head of
Damascus, Rezin; and within
threescore and five years shall
Ephraim be abroken that it be
not people.x

x

The prophet promised Ahaz that within sixty-five years Ephraim would cease to be a nation; this prophecy was fulfilled about 721 B.C. when Assyria gathered up and carried away the rebellious kingdom of Israel—Terry Ball and Nathan Winn, Making Sense of Isaiah, Deseret Book, p. 121

Because the chronologies of biblical and contemporary texts are neither complete nor in harmony, it is difficult to review the history with year-to-year precision. The fulfilment of this prophecy, however, is generally regarded as extending past the initial invasions of both Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V to the final conquest and displacement of the majority of the population under the Assyrian king Esarhaddon. Throughout the period of disruption and migrations, Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, was able to maintain some identity until the final deportation. (See OTSM Enrichment F; see also Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary,7:1:211–12; Young, Book of Isaiah 1:275–76.)

And the head of Ephraim is
Samaria, 
and the head of
Samaria is Remaliah’s son. aIf
ye 
will not believe, surely ye
shall not be established.

x

x

x

x

x

And the head of Ephraim is
Samaria, and the head of
Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If
ye will anot believe surely ye
shall not be established.

x

x

x

x

x

Essentially, Isaiah is saying that since Syria (Damascus) is “headed” by king Rezin, and Ephraim (Israel) is “headed” by Remaliah’s son (Pekah), their political power will fail. The corrupt administration of these two kings will lead to Syria’s and Israel’s prophesied downfall. Isaiah warns Ahaz that Judah must remain firm in her faith in the Lord or else she too will fall.—Victor L. Ludlow, Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormon. Deseret Book, pp 125–6

10 ¶ Moreover the Lord spake
again unto Ahaz, saying,

10 Moreover, the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying:

11 Ask thee sign of the Lord
thy 
God; ask it either in the
depth, or in the height above.
x

11 Ask thee asign of the Lord
thy God; ask it either in the
depths, or in the heights above.
x

King Ahaz was reluctant to accept counsel, so the prophet challenged him to seek the confirming witness of the Lord: “ask a sign” (OTSM ).

12 But Ahaz said, will not ask,
neither will atempt the Lord.


x

12 But Ahaz said: will not ask,
neither will atempt the Lord.


x

Still, the king refused, not because he was unwilling to tempt God as he said, but because he did not want the Lord interfering in his plans to make an alliance with other nations. (OTSM ).

13 And he said, Hear ye now,
house of David; Is it a small
thing for you to weary men,
but will ye weary my God also?
x

13 And he said: Hear ye now, O house of David; is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
x

Verse 13 gives us the feeling that both Isaiah and the Lord are frustrated with the king’s lack of faith.—Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormon. Deseret Book, p 126

14 Therefore the Lord himself
shall give you asignbBehold,
cvirgin shall conceive, and
bear dsonand shall call his
name eImmanuel.

x

x

x

x


x

 x

14 Therefore, the Lord himself
shall give you sign—Behold,
avirgin shall conceive, and
shall bear son, and shall call
his name bImmanuel4.

x

x

x

x


x

 x

The Lord revealed the sign anyway, confirming the prophetic promise that the Messiah would be born of the remnant of Judah and that Judah would not totally perish.  …This name, Immanuel, is also a title that describes Jehovah’s mission in mortality. The New Testament provides a correct interpretation of its meaning in Hebrew. Matthew recorded: “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:22–23)(OTSM).

This passage is cited in the New Testament as being fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:25). Some commentators point out that the word translated virgin means only a young woman and not someone who has never had sexual relations. They do this in an attempt to refute this passage as proof of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. But it can be shown that the term is properly translated and did mean an unmarried woman (Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:286–88).
The Book of Mormon, likewise, testifies of Mary’s virginity at the time of Christ’s conception (see 1 Nephi 11:13, 15, 18, 20–21). Thus, the vision of Nephi affirms Isaiah’s ancient prophecy that it was indeed a virgin who would conceive. (OTSM ).
President Marion G. Romney spoke of the importance of spiritual direction in understanding the prophet Isaiah’s declaration: “Here is another example in which men revise the scriptures without the inspiration of the Spirit. Isaiah, in predicting the birth of Christ, said: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ (Isaiah 7:14. Italics added.) When Isaiah used the word virgin, he was saying that a woman who had not known a man should bear a son.
“The modern translators say: ‘Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ (Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version [1952], Isaiah 7:14. Italics added.) You see, they do not believe that Christ was divine, so it does not make any difference to them whether they say a ‘young woman’ or a ‘virgin.’” (In Conference Report, Tokyo Japan Area Conference 1975, p. 46.)

15 aButter and honey shall he
eat, that he may know to
refuse the evil, and choose the
good.
x

15 Butter and ahoney shall he
eat, that he may know to refuse
the evil and to choose the good

x

Immanuel’s diet was to be curd and honey…Jesus’s birth into the poorer class of people would make this his diet.—Monte S. Nyman, “Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” p 58

16 For abefore the child shall
know to refuse the beviland
choose the good, the land that
thou abhorrest shall be forsaken
of both her kings.
x


x

16 For abefore the child shall
know to refuse the evil and
choose the good, the land that
thou abhorrest shall be forsaken
of bboth her kings.
x


x

In contrast to the promise to Judah, the writer prophesied the fall of the Northern Kingdom, “the land thou abhorrest” (v. 16), which opposed King Ahaz. The two kings who reigned in the north at that time were put to death by the Assyrians.Monte S. Nyman, “Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” pp. 58–59

17 ¶ aThe Lord shall bring upon
thee, and upon thy people, and
upon thy father’s house, days
that have not come, from the day
that bEphraim departed from
cJudaheven the king of Assyria.

x

17 The Lord shall abring upon
thee, and upon thy people,
and upon thy father’s house,
days that have not come from
the day that bEphraim departed
from Judah, the king of Assyria.x
x

History shows that Ahaz didn’t heed the Lord’s warning and instead tried to form an alliance with their common enemy! He asked Assyria to protect him from Syria and Israel!—Bytheway, John. Isaiah For AirheadsDeseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.

18 And it shall come to pass in
that day, that the Lord shall 
ahiss bfor the fly that is in the
uttermost part of the rivers of
Egypt, and for the bee that is in
the land of Assyria.

x

18 And it shall come to pass in
that day that the Lord shall hiss
for the fly that is in the uttermost
part of Egypt, and for the bee
that is in the land of Assyria.

x

x

As a result of their continuing rebellion, “the Lord shall hiss for the fly,” meaning the Lord would allow or call for plagues and troubles to come upon them.—Christensen, Reg. Unlocking Isaiah, Covenant Communications Inc.. Kindle Edition.

19 And they shall come, and
shall rest all of them in the
desolate valleys, and in the holes
of the rocks, and upon all thorns,
and upon all bushes.

x

x

19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.

x

x

The prophecy states that the land which has been cultivated for agricultural purposes will be left uncultivated following the Assyrian conquest. The fly and the bee are usually interpreted to be the armies of Egypt and Assyria, which would come upon Judah as a swarm.Monte S. Nyman, “Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” p 59

20 In the same day shall the
Lord ashave with razor that is
hired, namely, by them beyond
the river, by the king of Assyria,
the head, and the hair of the feet:
and it shall also consume the
beard.

 xx

x

20 In the same day shall the
Lord shave with arazor that is
hired, by them beyond the river,
by the king of Assyria, the head,
and the hair of the feet; and it
shall also consume the beard.
x

x

x

Shaving was a symbol of slavery, and this shaver that is “hired” may refer to the Lord using the Assyrians as a tool to punish covenant Israel, or to Ahaz, who foolishly “hired” or entered into an alliance with the Assyrians who would later betray him.—Bytheway, John. Isaiah For Airheads Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition. 

21 And it shall come to pass in
that day, that aa man shall
nourish young cow, and two
sheep;x

x

x

21 And it shall come to pass in that day, a man shall nourish a young cow and two sheep;

x

x

The imagery used by Isaiah in verses 21–25, next, shows us that, after the conquering enemy armies have done their work, the land will be relatively empty of inhabitants.—Ridges, David J.. The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3. Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

22 And it shall come to pass, for
the abundance of milk that they
shall give he shall eat butter: for
abutter and honey shall every one
eat that is left in the land.

x

x

22 And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk they shall give he shall eat butter; for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.

x

x

After the attack, there will be plenty of milk and honey because there will be few survivors to enjoy it. Perhaps also, the milk-producing animals have more former farmland as pasture, and are therefore more productive (see Ball, Isaiah and the Book of Mormon, audiotape). 

23 And it shall come to pass in
that day, that every place shall be,
where there were thousand vines
at thousand asilverlingsit shall
even be for briers and thorns.
 

x

x

23 And it shall come to pass in that day, every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, which shall be for briers and thorns. 

x

x

As a result of their war and rebellion, their land would be left desolate, and “where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns” (Isa. 7:23). Steep is the price of rebellion.—Christensen, Reg. Unlocking Isaiah, Covenant Communications Inc.. Kindle Edition.

24 With arrows and with bows
shall men come thither; because
all the land shall become briers
and thorns.

x

24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither, because all the land shall become briers and thorns.

x

Previously cultivated land will become wild and overgrown so hunters will hunt wild beasts there.—Ridges, David J.. The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3. Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

 25 And on all hills that shall be
adigged with the mattockthere
shall not come thither the fear of
briers and thorns: but it shall be
for the sending forth of oxen, and
for the treading of blesser cattle.
x

x

25 And all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and the treading of lesser cattle.

x

x

Small areas will be digged with the mattock (the hoe) for a few vegetables, but the formerly cultivated land will be primarily a grazing land for a few cattle. When Assyria came and conquered northern Israel, she also came upon the regions round about Jerusalem and thus fulfilled this prophecy.—Monte S. Nyman, “Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” p 59 

Chapter Links to the Book of Isaiah
(those in blue are posted others are pending)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
33 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55
56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66

 

Chapters of Isaiah Quoted in the Book of Mormon

1 Nephi 20 21
2 Nephi  7  8  12  13 14 15  16  17
18 19 20 21 22 23  24  27
Mosiah  14
3 Nephi  20  22

 

 

 

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I am a retiree from Scouting. There I blogged for VoiceOfScouting.org, a site with more than 250,000 readers. During 42 years in the workplace, I've had many years senior level management with the BSA, professional associations, and high tech user groups. My background includes capital fundraising; outdoor adventure program development; property and construction management; event/conference planning; risk management and safety; lobbying federal, state and local government agencies; public relations; strategic planning; member advocacy and staff/volunteer training. Along the way, I have also taught Gospel Doctrine Classes and been both the ward and stake Sunday School President. In these settings, I have seen teachers and class members minimize Isaiah, a book Christ has commanded us to "search diligently." (3 Ne 23:1) With that in mind, I will do my best to explore and post my discoveries about the book of Isaiah. I am not a Bible scholar; like you, I read Isaiah in the Old Testament cycle of study in LDS Gospel Doctrine Classes and again in the Book of Mormon Cycle, so this is a whole new scripture adventure for me.

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